UPDATE (March 21): This definitely did work! It just needed more time. It was moldy after about a week – it ended up being the same color as the bucket in which it resides. I made 9 large panels with it, moved them all multiple times, and force dried them with no cracking. Success!
So the Grand Yogurt Bacteria Experiment failed. Here’s a picture:
Bucket with yogurt bacteria is on the left. Same color as non-bacteriacized slip after about 16 hours.
When I first opened the bucket, I thought I got a whiff of some nasty, but it dissipated before I could be certain. I don’t really know why this amazing plan didn’t work. It makes perfect sense in my mind! I guess I did only use one starter packet though. That’s how much is required to turn 1 qt of milk into yogurt, so maybe I just didn’t use enough. Or maybe it needs more time. That’s what I’m hoping. I mixed the yogurt bucket in with the tub this evening and I’m hoping that in (a relatively short amount of) time it’ll brew quite nicely.
I’m going to be casting some large panels tomorrow. (24-30″ wide by 60″ long) I’ve been trying to encourage mold to grow in my slip for the past month just for this project, by leaving the bucket sealed next to the radiator. I need it to be considerably more moldy and plastic than it is right now. It’s not working. [Plasticity refers to how bend-y the clay is; how far can I bend it when it’s wet before it splits apart?] In my previous projects casting largish (24″ x 24″) panels, they dried with less warping and cracking and were a lot easier to transport into the kiln and if they were cast from super stinky, moldy slip. I’m talking porcelain slip that’s a definite dark gray, not the pretty cream or white that it is when it’s fresh. Slip so moldy that other people on the other end of the studio open their windows and I work with dryer sheets stuffed up my nostrils.
Now you know my goal. And I’ve told you I haven’t accomplished it yet. And furthermore, I need this moldy awesomeness by tomorrow. What is my brilliant idea, you ask? Here it is: I dissolved a bunch of yogurt starter into some warm water. And then I mixed that into a 5-gallon bucket of slip and put the whole thing next to the radiator.
Do you think it’ll work? I hope so! I really have no idea, though. Stayed tuned….
This morning on the way to my studio I ran into the gallery director, who asked me if I’d looked at the gallery’s site lately. I said no, and he suggested that I check it out. I’m going to put a link here so you can do the same! http://www1.umassd.edu/cvpa/universityartgallery/upcoming/overview.cfm